Like most marketers, I’ve been watching the mobile industry for the past few years, waiting for it to gain traction as a marketing discipline. This week my patience led me to Mobile University 101 in Chicago; a one-day dive into the basics of mobile and its potential for marketing. The question on the minds of the well-dressed crowd of marketers attending was: “Is this finally the year of mobile?” The answer is both yes, and no. Here’s what I think has been holding mobile back from being adopted as a wide-spread marketing tactic: perspective.
Note: For additional insights, take some time to read the tweet stream from Mobile University.
What Mobile is Not
If you hang around advertising agency and corporate types (not that there’s anything wrong with that) it won’t be long before you hear the word ‘silo.’ In the real world, a silo is where you store stuff, like grain. In the marketing world, silo is a metaphor for separating things into self-contained units. In silos, things don’t get mixed up. They stand alone and separate. There are company silos, likes sales, marketing and manufacturing all operating independently from each other. There are marketing silos, like online and offline, broadcast and print, TV and Cable. And here’s where mobile doesn’t belong; in a silo.
It’s very tempting to separate mobile from the other marketing storehouses into its own silo, because it mostly all takes place on a mobile device. But mobile marketing is not a silo like television or newspaper. Think of mobile more like a landscape, with several mobile floras combining into a diverse marketing panorama.
How can you possibly stick all these things into the same silo?
- Short Codes
- Mobile websites
- Location based search
- Location based social media
- Mobile coupons and offers
- Mobile loyalty programs
- Mobile wallets
- Mobile Commerce
And Now, for the Good News
First, let me break the bad news: the mobile picture will not get any clearer for a while. The landscape is evolving. The floras are still maturing. New species are being developed. The picture remains blurry. And really, that’s good for you.
Because where there is obscurity and confusion, there is hesitancy. That’s what’s happening right now. A wait-and-see attitude proliferate the general business population because things are difficult to understand. “Let’s just wait until this picture clears up.” “Let’s wait until we understand this better.” But that’s just like saying, “Let’s just wait until we have no tactical advantage.”
The Time for Mobile is Now
The joke in marketing for the past 4-5 years is that we keep waiting for “The Year of Mobile.” What we’re really looking for is permission to move forward into this mysterious new country. “Is it safe yet?” We’re looking for safety in numbers so that our mistakes aren’t so clearly evident. Let someone else be Lewis and Clark, we’ll take the wagon train later.
But Andrew Koven gave us the right perspective on the final panel of the day at Mobile University 101. Koven is the President of E-Commerce and Customer Experience at Steve Madden Shoes. He said that “There is no year of mobile. But it’s time for mobile.”
And it is time. Time for you to jump in. The barriers to entry are minimal, and the cost can be surprisingly low. There are some small business applications available for as little as $20 a month. Don’t just admire the landscape, be the landscaper.
Are you ready to try mobile? What’s your perspective?
About the Author
Jay Ehret is Chief Officer of Awesomeness at The Marketing Spot, a marketing consulting firm in Waco, Texas. He turns entrepreneurs into marketers and transforms businesses in to brands. He blogs at The Marketing Spot Blog.